Bitt + ECCB
In 2019, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and the Barbados-based fintech company, Bitt Inc., signed a contract to conduct a blockchain-issued central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).
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During this pilot, the ECCB will mint a digital version of the Eastern Caribbean dollar (DXCD) as legal tender. To participate in the pilot, register with a financial institution, or an approved service provider. Download the DXCD mobile wallet application (free from mobile app stores) to manage funds, make purchases, and pay your bills. You can acquire DXCD by cashing in physical notes and coins, or converting funds from your bank account. Through implementation of the pilot, the ECCB hopes to increase opportunities for financial growth, competitiveness, and resilience for citizens of the ECCU. The DXCD pilot will address the following recurring issues:
Relatively high costs of current payment methods and banking services within the ECCU
Inadequacy of banking services in addressing the needs of various customers
Inefficient methods of settling cheque transactions, which slow the pace of commerce
DXCD users will enjoy the following benefits:
Pay or transfer money, without fees, in real time
Simple steps and easy-to-use interfaces
No bank account is required
Send money instantly to family, friends, and businesses within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU)
Secure and safe platform to facilitate your DXCD storage and transactions
No minimum spending amount (as in the case of card payment products)
No minimum balance required to maintain your DXCD account
Personal digital financial reports, provide real-time access to transaction records
Privacy and confidentiality of all your transaction information
This timeline shows the different phases of the project, according to their scheduled calendar quarters:
For over a year, Bitt's team of developers has been building the ECCB-commissioned software that will mint and issue DXCD. This customised software will create and manage the DXCD payments platform for commercial banks, credit unions, businesses, and individuals within the ECCU.
Upon completion of training pilot, Bitt will equip participants (the ECCB, financial institutions, and merchants) with the tools and materials (documents, FAQ’s, and videos) to carry out the following:
Successfully train others within their institution
Perform ‘self-help’ with DXCD applications
Support their customers during pilot operations
In mid-March 2020, Bitt and the ECCB conducted preliminary testing of the DXCD applications with select stakeholder groups in St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada. This marked a major milestone accomplishment as the ECCB prepares for its scheduled June 2020 launch. Stakeholders tested early versions of DXCD applications, performed person-to-person transactions, and tested DXCD payments with merchants. Bitt will use this live testing phase for feedback, from actual software users, toward refinements ahead of launch.
The Bitt team will conduct extensive training with the ECCB, financial institutions, and merchants. Training will be tailored to the skill level, needs, and expectations of each department within each institution. Training will be conducted in classroom style presentations, using a ‘Train the Trainer’ method. This training method will ensure that participants learn and simultaneously learn how to train others.
The purpose of acceptance testing is to evaluate the DXCD system’s compliance with prospective business requirements, and assess whether it is acceptable for delivery. This is formal testing of user needs, requirements, and business processes. This testing will determine if the DXCD system satisfies the acceptance criteria and will enable the users, customers, and other authorised entities to determine if to accept the existing DXCD system.
We will conduct an assessment of the DXCD’s overall security posture, including cybersecurity. This security audit will verify that the current DXCD security strategy is adequate, and will uncover any vulnerabilities introduced by this new technology and its related processes.
Readiness assessments will identify potential challenges, new procedures, structures, and processes within a currency organisational context. This is an analysis of an organisation’s ability to transform processes, or change, to accommodate DXCD. Considerations are assessed in three key business areas: technical, commercial, and operations.
Communication will provide potential DXCD users with information about the technology, the application and its benefits, and how to get started.
In Q3, the ECCB ascribed the name ‘DCash’ to the pilot, and the associated app. The name ‘DCash’, literally meaning 'digital cash', was developed to resonate with consumers within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).
Customers can sign up for DXCD applications in preparation for the launch of the pilot.
Bitt and the ECCB will maintain continuous assessment of the performance of the DXCD pilot via routine collection of information, and the appraisal of data and information that inform strategic decisions.
The ECCB coined the nomenclature ‘DCash’ as the marketplace brand for DXCD. The DCash brand will appear on all consumer-facing software especially the merchant and consumer web and mobile applications.
Prior to the public launch, the ECCB, the registered financial institutions, select merchants and their staff will participate in a closed pilot. This exercise will enable these stakeholders to assess the efficacy of the entire DCash ecosystem.
The ECCB has designated non-depository financial institutions as 'DCash Agents' to facilitate the onboarding and customer service of consumers who do not have bank or credit union accounts.
The ECCB publicly announced the DCash closed pilot exercise and celebrated the first consumer-to-merchant transaction with globally disseminated news releases. The central bank also used this opportunity to publicly state that DCash would launch at the end of Q1 2021.
Participating financial institutions and merchants worked with teams from Bitt and the ECCB to become operationally ready to manage DCash transactions. These strategic partners used the closed pilot to prepare their operations and marketing for the public launch.
Concurrently, Bitt also worked closely with the ECCB to develop and deploy a phased, multinational marketing and communications campaign anticipation of the public launch.
On March 16th, Governor Timothy N. J. Antoine announced that DCash will be launched and issued to the public from March 31st, 2021. On March 29th, the DCash website was launched and features information about the DCash Apps, participating financial institutions, merchants, agents, incentives and support.
- Reuters: Eastern Caribbean blazes a trail as first currency union to launch central bank digital cash
- AP: Eastern Caribbean dollar goes digital, a help for unbanked
- The Block: Eastern Caribbean Central Bank publicly launches new digital currency
- The CoinTelegraph: Eastern Caribbean Central Bank's DCash digital currency goes live
- PYMNTS: Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Takes CBDC Live
- Ledger Insights: Eastern Caribbean launches central bank digital currency pilot DCash
- FinExtra: Eastern Caribbean Central Bank commences roll out digital currency
The ECCB will not eliminate the use of cash. Merchants will continue to accept cash as a form of payment. The ECCB guarantees all funds on the DCash network against losses due to infrastructure failure for the duration of the pilot test.